Virtuous Circle Counselling

How to Turn Anxiety Off

Does Anxiety Have An “Off-Switch”?

You just can’t help yourself when your phone is lying there next to you and you want to take a quick look at what’s going on everywhere.

With events in the world updating at a breakneck pace, you get sucked in. Scrolling through your phone, you quickly move from one post to another.

Each one highlights some sort of crisis or event that seems devastating and even though you’re not involved in such an event, you still need to know, for some or other reason.

Of course, lately, there have been many events occurring that are quite significant. So, it makes sense that you want to stay informed. However, social media and the news also have the power to fuel your anxiety.

Here are three ways this happens, and they will help you to recognize when the feeling grabs you and teach you how to know when to turn it off.

Doomscrolling, Social Media, and the News

One phenomenon attributed to the news and social media is called “doomscrolling.”

Doomscrolling is when you just keep scrolling through your feeds, reading all the negative news of the day. This isn’t where you make a casual glance at your phone, then put it down to move on to the next thing. Rather, you become absorbed into your feed, reading one story after another.

Why does this happen? An answer might lie in our need, as a species, for self-preservation. To meet this need, we are attuned to any potential danger to ourselves. In modern times, that could also include staying up to date on the news, even if it’s bad.

There’s no fault in trying to keep safe or hoping for a brighter future for humanity. Just be careful of not spiraling down the rabbit’s hole.

Fear of Missing Out

There’s another aspect to our relationship between social media and the news. This is commonly known as “FOMO.” It stands for “fear of missing out.”

This phenomenon is often attributed to not wanting to miss out on what your friends or followers are doing. It’s normal to not want to miss out on fun or interesting things, it’s just that you’ll lose the whole “fun” idea when you get too obsessed.

It can also apply to the news. The 24-hour news cycle already existed before social media, thanks to cable TV. But now it feels that social media has kicked that cycle into overdrive.

Events seem to happen at a rapid clip. In fact, when a news website posts a new story, they note how many minutes the article or post has been up. You don’t want to miss out on the next development, so you check your phone or set it with alert notifications whenever something new happens.

FOMO can become dangerous to your mental health and therefore you need to realize that your most likely are going to miss out on some activities or news etc. Plus, no-one will expect you to be so on top of everything all the time.

Amplification from Friends or Followers

Finally, social media and the news fuels your anxiety through your friends and followers. This happens in two ways:


  • First, people repost stories they have seen into their own feeds
  • Second, both they and others comment on those stories


Thus, most likely you are not just reading the news story. You are also reading the comments on it. Over the course of a day, you might check the same post multiple times to see the new comments or responses to other comments. None of these comments actually have anything useful in them. Rather, they amplify the drama behind the news story, especially if it’s bad news.

So, try to make a sincere effort to dial down on this type of impulse and step away from the drama!

How to Know When to Turn it Off

So, how do I know when I should turn off social media and put the phone down? Here are some thoughts:

  • If your significant other/partner tells you that you are spending too much time on your phone. Take the feedback! Also, try to ask them nicely to explain the scenario to you to make sure you’re on the same page.
  • When the news you are viewing is filled with drama and emotion because you can’t drag the worlds drama and emotion with you forever.
  • If you keep checking your device for the latest updates not just multiple times a day, but several times an hour you should put a stop to it. Your device will let you know when it’s time to update. That’s not really your job.
  • Work or projects that you intend to get done are not completed because you are on your phone. Social media and random news scrolling can take time away from your working hours and this can significantly affect your income.

Social Media and the News Can Fuel Anxiety

Ask yourself whether what you are viewing is helpful, educational, meaningful, or fulfilling. Chances are that you are likely to discover that it simply isn’t.

Why not use social media for things that are more fulfilling? Such as finding a new baking recipe or a workout routine. Also, allow time during your day when you are not using social media at all. Give yourself a cutoff time in the evening before bed. Yes, that’s right, you basically need to become as strict on yourself as your mother used to be on you.

If you are struggling with creating healthy boundaries between yourself and technology, there is help. Get some advice or hop online to find a therapist that can help you beat the obsession. In the informational age, more and more psychologists and other mental health professionals are becoming familiar with this particular issue.

Reach out today to learn more about how to find a solution to your anxiety.

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We at Virtuous Circle Counselling acknowledge Moh’kinstsis, the lands where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, in what we currently call Calgary. We acknowledge that we are visitors on Moh’kinsstis and acknowledge the Blackfoot are those who named this area as Moh’kinsstis. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we recognize the ancestral territories, cultures, and oral practices of the Blackfoot people, the Îyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Dene people of the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.